Role of ‘Aumaga’ Untitled Men Inspires Dance Performance

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Aumaga, a dance work inspired by the role of taulea’ale’a (untitled men) and the aumaga (social class of taule’ale’a) is set to be performed on Friday at the National University of Samoa.

The dance work has been developed over the course of three months by Wellington dancer and choreographer, Tupe Lualua, during her residency in Samoa as the 2019 Creative New Zealand Samoa Artist in Residence.

Aumaga was inspired by the stories of her late father, Matua I Falemua Tolua Lualua and the life of her late cousin, Pili Tilo Lualua. During her residency Ms Lualua has been able to engage in further development and creation of the evolving dance work.

Dividing her time between Apia and Savaia-tai, Lefaga, Ms Lualua has been working with two groups of dancers made up of NUS performing art students and Taule’ale’a from her village of Savaia-tai.

“The work was originally created with dancers from New Zealand in Wellington, before embarking on further research in Samoa for presentation at the Pacific Arts Association conference at the National University of Samoa in 2017.”

Ms Lualua said she has developed new sequences of choreography with 11 Samoan based dancers, five performing Arts students from NUS and six Taule’ale’a from Savaia-tai, Lefaga.

She added. “This presentation is a work in progress based on the lived experiences of those that have been involved in the project“.

While the commute has been challenging, Ms Lualua said she wouldn’t have it any other way, going the extra mile to engage young dancers from city and rural settings to create Aumaga,

“It was necessary to ensure that the work was as authentic as possible in capturing the experiences of taule’ale’a and shine a light on the importance of the Aumaga in Samoan society – I want to continuously remind my dancers how important they are,” she said.

Ms Lualua has brought in the help of former Black Grace dancer and Le Moana dance choreographer, Andy Faiaoga, who arrived on Monday from New Zealand to provide the Aumaga performers with additional technical dance support and advice.

Ms Lualua has been invited to perform Aumaga at the 2020 Pacific Dance Festival in New Zealand during Samoan Language Week and she is excited to tour the work with her Samoa based dancers,

“I want to take these young artists on tour and give them that experience of being a part of an international dance festival and also give them a taste of what professional dancing on a bigger platform looks like.” She said

“The ultimate goal is to be able to provide opportunities for them to receive professional Arts training in New Zealand.”

Aumaga will be showing at the Fale Samoa in the National University of Samoa this Friday, November 8th at 5pm-6pm.